South Carolina Botanical Garden plants

McMillan: “Being a gardener you really feel the brunt of the volatility that’s now the reality of our climate.”

That’s Patrick McMillan, the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden. He says it’s gotten warmer in the 60 years since the garden was established. And there are wide swings in the amount of rainfall. For example, during the flood of 2013 …

McMillan: “We ended up with a about 62 million gallons of water overrunning our pond systems here.”

Contrast that to last year, when the area had the driest 10-month stretch on record.

Mcmillan: “It was, by far, the driest growing season we’ve ever seen.”

This volatile weather is consistent with scientific expectations for South Carolina as the world warms. To keep the garden vibrant, the staff have changed the plants they showcase to varieties that are more suited to today’s climate. Many bear little resemblance to what originally grew in the garden.

Mcmillan: “A lot of our collections were things that today we can’t even imagine growing.”

By adapting to the changing climate, the botanical garden will continue to provide a beautiful oasis for visitors – and wildlife – even in an uncertain future.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of South Carolina Botanical Garden.

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Lisa Palmer

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...